World Champion Winky Wright has been called out by fighters, but this time, he’s being called out by the Mayor of Hidalgo, Texas, and the entire community of the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Since building the new Dodge Arena in Hidalgo two years ago, boxing fans here have been hoping their beautiful 6,500 seat venue would attract the area’s first HBO World Championship Boxing event. Now the Mayor and fight fans are hoping Wright can fulfill their dreams by bringing his December 10th, HBO bout to their community.
“We want you, Winky,” called out Hidalgo Mayor, John David Franz. “We have a beautiful new facility here and our thousands of fight fans ready to welcome you to Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.”
And the Mayor is not just talking the talk, he and his citizens are walking the walk. “We have been working with city officials, area hotels and sponsors to put together a very attractive financial package that will hopefully bring Winky’s December HBO fight to the Valley,” said Mayor Franz. “We have presented our offer to Mr. Wright’s promoter, Mr. Gary Shaw.”
This mostly Hispanic market of close to one million residents along the Texas and Mexico border is one of the United States’ fastest growing areas. It also happens to be one of the fastest growing boxing markets, consistently rating around the top in national buy rates for pay-per-view boxing events.
The three major cities within the Valley are McAllen, Harlingen and Brownsville, Texas. Hidalgo sets sits in the middle, on the edge of McAllen and it’s Dodge Arena has served as the newest hot spot for Texas boxing. Twice since opening, the Dodge Arena has sold out boxing events and several times has hosted crowds near capacity.
Lester Bedford, of The Bedford Agency, has been assisting the City of Hidalgo in bringing the December 10th event to the Valley. It was Bedford who suggested the Rio Grande Valley and the Dodge Arena for Shaw’s upcoming promotion.
“I had spoken to Gary about various possibilities in Texas and the Dodge Arena was my first thought,” said Bedford, who’s managed and marketed pretty much every major boxing event in Texas over the past 20 years.
“More than any other location in Texas, this area is the most deserving of hosting an HBO Boxing event. For years the Valley has been one of the best pay-per-view markets in the country and the fans have shown great support for its live gate events as well.
“But the one thing the fans there always ask me is ‘when are we going to get an HBO fight.’ These fans have earned the right to host an HBO boxing event. It’s like a fighter who has fought his way up the ladder and deserves his shot at a big fight.”
Bedford says his concern is -- Wright and his camp not viewing the Rio Grande Valley as a major market, worthy of a fighter rated as one of the world’s best pound for pound fighters.
“I realize this may be a big issue with them (Wright and Shaw),” said a concerned Bedford. “Many times the fighters and promoters want the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, New York or Los Angeles. That’s all great, but are those fans any more deserving or appreciative than the fans in the Rio Grande Valley? Absolutely not.
“There’s no way Winky Wright can go anywhere in the United States and be appreciated as much or more than the Rio Grande Valley on December 10th. If he wants to be a hero to a supportive community, we have one waiting for him.”
Those sentiments are echoed by Mayor Franz. “We’re ready for Winky Wright Week,” beamed the Mayor. “We’re ready to show Winky and the rest of the world we appreciate him and the great fighter he is.”
The City of Hidalgo and Bedford have made their pitch through Shaw, and are now awaiting a final answer. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed and doors open,” Mayor Franz concluded. “Hopefully Mr. Wright will accept this heartfelt invitation from our city and the many boxing fans of the Rio Grande Valley.”